My U.S. readers have probably never heard of Symbian, which is a smartphone operating system that dominates the mobile phone market pretty much everywhere but here. With today’s news that Nokia has purchased the remaining 52 percent of Symbian it didn’t already own (with the stated intent of making the OS an open-source product), I figured it was about time to give Symbian users some love.

With some minor adjustments, I am initiating official Off on a Tangent support for Symbian mobile phones today—whether they use the S60 or UIQ interface systems. The WebKit-based S60 browser has full ‘hi-fi’ support (see ‘zoomed’ image at right), while the Opera Mobile-based UIQ browser currently has only ‘low-fi’ support. I am expecting to move UIQ support up to ‘hi-fi’ after Opera Mobile 9.5 rolls out. Symbian joins Windows Mobile, Palm OS, Blackberry, Apple iPhone, and the Android betas as supported and tested mobile platforms that work well with this site.

As an aside, I’m very excited about the direction of the smartphone industry lately. Apple’s iPhone seems to have kicked the other companies in the butt, and we’re just now starting to see some real improvement and innovation in a field that—frankly—completely sucked only a year or two ago. Soon we’ll have at least two solid, open source smartphone operating systems (Symbian and various flavors of Linux) competing with Apple and Microsoft for your handsets, and that’s very good for us consumers!